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Current location: Seattle, WA
Member since: Tue Nov 23, 2004, 10:22 PM
Number of posts: 9,292

Journal Archives

Universal Health Care must be front and center.

You are absolutely right.

The concept that you cannot have a functioning constitutional democracy if the people do not have equal access to a basic level of health care is a fundamental democratic -- little d and big D -- principle.

It is a given that you cannot have a functioning constitutional democracy if the people do not have equal access to a basic level of education. Education is pretty irrelevant if you are dead. Access to a basic level of health care is every bit as fundamental as access to a basic level of education.

Universal Health Care must be front and center because it goes to the heart of who we are as a nation. Are we a nation committed to making sure each and every citizen has the basic building blocks to thrive? Yes. Isn't health one of those basic building blocks? Yes, of course it is. Doesn't it follow that we must provide equal access to a basic level of health care for EVERYONE? Of course it does. It is a simple concept.

Are we powerful enough to make it happen? Of course we are.

A nation that makes these types of commitments, and endeavors to fulfill those commitments, is a nation to be proud of.

These are the types of visions we must build and work to make real because these are the visions that engage hearts and minds. Once we define ourselves as a nation committed to providing every person to the building blocks needed to thrive, we must necessarily start looking at where we are achieving this goal, and where we are not. The overarching definition of what kind of nation we are drives us in the right direction.

Universal Health Care must be front and center for another reason. Discussion of Universal Health Care is also a discussion of the limits of the "free market." Health care is NOT a commodity, and "Free market forces" don't apply. You need the health care you need when you need it. We all need a certain amount of preventative care. Some of us get sick. When we do, we need more. It's not like buying a car, or other commodity. You don't wake up one morning and think "I'd like to start injecting myself with Enbrel, I know it's expensive, but I deserve it!"

We do NOT need to get into the mechanics until we have built consensus on what it is we need to commit to achieving. What constitutes a "basic level" of health care? Define that free of concerns about cost. Only when you have defined some basic parameters of what the goal is do you shift focus to design.

The "extreme left" didn't give us Trump. The path to hell was paved by

... the Democratic leadership's refusal to do their duty and defend the Constitution they swore to uphold by fighting, win or lose, for:

1. Impeachment of Reagan for Iran-Contra.
2. Prosecution of Bush Sr. when the extent of his role in Iran contra was exposed.
3. An objection to the unlawfully appointed FL electors on Jan 6, 2001, as was their duty under the electoral count act.
4. Impeachment of Bush/Cheney for torture.

Too many of them failed to protect the constitution from Alito when they refused to join a winning filibuster that would actually have stopped him, and instead cast their useless No votes on the floor. Thinking things like "I opposed Alito, even tho I refused to do the one thing guaranteed to stop him" is the sort of thinking that has earned them their wimpy reputation.

As if their failure to stand and fight for our founding principles weren't devastating enough, they have stubbornly adhered to a policy of preemptive surrender on the proposed solutions they claim to support (The "Can't Win, So Don't Fight" policy.)

They give lip service to universal health care, progressive tax reform, ending mass incarceration, consumer protections, financial system protections, and on and on, but the leadership of our party almost NEVER actually takes concrete action. Over, and over, and over again they have refused to "whip up" support for proposals and bills that would make a real difference. The ONLY way to make a case to the American people for real change is to actually MAKE THE CASE.

Making a case for getting a slice of bread does not win hearts and minds over to the idea that we need, and can get, the whole loaf. Making the case for getting a slice does not demonstrate strength and leadership. It says "We are too weak to do the things that will make a REAL difference in your lives." Not a stirring message.

Fighting, win or lose, is how you make things happen. It's how you demonstrate the strength the electorate craves. Chances of "winning" today are irrelevant. Fighting now makes it possible to win down the line.

Until the Democratic leadership really "gets" this, our downward spiral will continue.

They could learn something from the right-wingnuts who unceasingly advocate for things long considered DOA. (Look at how many of those formerly DOA ideas are on the verge of becoming reality.) The Democratic leadership has not provided an effective counterpoint to the relentless corporatist/reactionary drum beat for decades.

The bottom line: The party leadership's immoral refusal to stand and fight for the Constitution coupled with their cowardly policy of preemptive surrender paved the road to our current hell.

The post asserting that the "extreme left gave us Nixon, Bush and now Trump" couldn't be more wrong. The REAL problem is the leadership's irrational phobia that they will look "too extreme" if they actually fight for meaningful change. Promoting the wrongheaded notion that the "extreme left" is the problem feeds their phobia. If you want to turn things around challenge their irrational fear. Help them overcome their phobia and step up.

On Edit: For those who see this as "bashing" and would call me a "Democrat hater," or who think I am being an apologist for the voters who opted out, perhaps the following posts will help you recognize what I am actually saying: Posts #449 and #274.

An example of what I mean by "driving the policy debate": Post #399

Call to Action: Letters to editors to refocus on what Repubs in Congress are doing.

Let's follow the lead of George Lakoff!

We've gotta start seeing all the DT lunacy as a side-show intended to distract us from what Congress is doing to destroy crucial protections and cut off resources that benefit us ALL..

One way to refocus attention is through letters to the editor. Letters expressing horror at the dismantling of a specific protection or cut of a specific resource. Letters telling them they need to keep their eye on the ball and do more reporting about the systematic dismantling of basic protections and decimation of public institutions and funding that benefit us all.

Read Lakoff's "Ten points for Democracy Activists" for guidance on how to frame things:

Psychopath / Antisocial personality disorder

His public conduct can be evaluated against the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. I think there is very little doubt that he meets the criteria. I also think there is very little doubt that he would score extremely high on the psychopathy scale.

DT breaks "every rule in the book" in pursuit of his own ends. He lies and distorts reality to rationalize and justify his wrongful conduct. To puff up his over-inflated ego he stereotypes and denigrates those he sees as "out-groups." His callous disregard for others and sense of entitlement appears to know no bounds. He weaves grandiose tales of his fearsome power, omnipotence, and unequaled brilliance. He is proudly abrasive and offensive. He clearly enjoys humiliating and embarrassing others, but reacts to any perceived slight to his own person, appearance, or accomplishments aggressively and vindictively.

These are the traits of a psychopath. Of someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sure, he may have other things going on too that would we exposed with extensive evaluation. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is undoubtedly in there too, but I think his psychopathy is more significant. I think labeling him a psychopath is useful. It captures so many of the malignant traits he exhibits.

I don't think labeling him a psychopath unfairly maligns psychopaths. And psychopaths are definitely capable of doing the sort of harm that can only be characterized as evil. So labeling him doesn't "let him off the hook."

My two cents. FWIW

Yes, protest, but we also...

... need to get "up close and personal."

Find out who the scheduler is for your representative and Senators. Connect with leaders in the organizations you belong to. Get some fellow members to join in. Fax the scheduler a meeting request. Tell them who you are, the subject.

I think the first oder of business is to lobby members of the Senate to Filibuster Gorsuch. Trump needs him on the bench to codify his unconstitutional EO's and legislation. We must STOP him. A deadlocked court that can set no precedent is better than one that destroys constitutional protections.

Getting a meeting with the Senator themselves is unlikely. Find out the names of senior staff, and don't them them try to fob you off on some intern or something. (When we were lobbying for rejection of the Ohio electors, Alito filibuster, and impeachment in NJ, we were unable to get meetings with rep/Senators, but did manage to meet with senior staffers).

Don't let them make it a meeting in which you just "have your say." You aren't just going "to be heard." Do everything you can think of to create a dialog. If the rep/senator holds an indefensible/immoral/unprincipled position, formulate questions that force them to defend the indefensible. Hearing their own words has power. If you can't get answers at the meeting, follow up. Noodge. Post the evasions here and elsewhere and ask others to call them. And if the person is on "your side" -- e.g., if they are already on board with a Filibuster -- meet with them to find out what you can do to help make it happen. Who is needs to be pressured? Who's on the fence? Who needs to be shamed as an example to others?

Corporations know the power of face-to-face lobbying. We need to harness that power for ourselves.

Dare we hope? Or will Dems repeat 1/31/2006 refusal to Filibuster Alito?

Yesterday wes the 11th anniversary of our so-called Democratic "leaders" absurd refusal to filibuster Alito.

Dare we hope that more of members of the 115th Senate will "see the light" on Gorsuch and any future Trump SCOTUS nominees?

In DC's bizzaro world, in 2006, 19 members of the Senate irrationally took the position that "opposition" means casting a meaningless "no" vote against Alito on the floor, while refusing join 24 of their colleagues in a winning filibuster that would ACTUALLY stop the war crime defender from ascending to our highest court.

It's an irrational notion that ranks right up there with Pelosi's "I would support Impeachment (Bush) if I weren't the Speaker."

We're already hearing the same noises from some of them. But dare we hope Shumer and Durbin will mount a serious effort to "whip" their colleagues into line against Gorsuch? (And then do the same against any future Trump nominees?)

Dare we hope to see more of them stand and fight on on principle?

Dare we hope they'll make enough noise to show the nation that Dems actually HAVE a few inviolate principles? That there are actually a few things Dems are willing to go all out for, win or lose?

I may be an idiot, but I have a spark of hope.

Let's take a look back at the tragic failure on the part of the 109th Senate. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned that can help us create a different outcome this time around.

The 24 rational/principled members who came through for an Alito filibuster:

8 of the 24 still there:
Chuck Schumer
Dick Durbin
Dianne Feinstein
Patrick Leahy
Patty Murray
Jack Reed
Debbie Stabenow
Ron Wyden

16 of the 24 gone:
Joe Biden
Barbara Boxer
Hillary Clinton
Mark Dayton
Chris Dodd
Russ Feingold
Jim Jeffords
Ted Kennedy
John Kerry
Frank Lautenberg
Carl Levin
Bob Menendez
Barbara Mikulski
Barack Obama
Harry Reid
Paul Sarbanes

Just a note -- Of the above, Menendez and Feinstein were reluctant supporters. I credit the concerted efforts of the many, many people (a good number of of whom were DUers) who confronted them face-to-face and showed them the disgust and disdain with which people outside the beltway bubble viewed the notion that voting yes for cloture and no on the floor constituted opposition. I saw it first hand as part of a contingent that met with one of Menendez staffers. He was a "newbie" being asked to buck the "time honored Senate tradition" of giving support to Alito as a "native son" of NJ. In absence of pressure from constituents, I don't think he would have come around.

The 19 who irrationally cast a meaningless "No" vote on the floor after refusing to ACTUALLY oppose Alito in what would have been a winning filibuster.

2 of the 19 still there:
Maria Cantwell
Tom Carper

17 of the 19 gone:
Daniel Akaka
Max Baucus
Evan Bayh
Jeff Bingaman
Barbara Boxer
Kent Conrad
Lincoln Chaffee
Byron Dorgan
Tom Harkin
aniel Inouye
Herb Kohl
Mary Landrieu
Joe Lieberman
Blanche Lincoln
Bill Nelson
Mark Pryor
Jay Rockefeller
Ken Salazar

(I can't help but note that a far larger percent of the rational folks are either still there, or were tapped for "better things."

Way back when....

Where they stood -- citizen lobbyists at work:

"Alito 8" Democratic Senators who are blocking the filibuster:

Four Groups Award Kerry "Spine" Cerficate for Leading Alito Filibuster Effort.

They keep doing it right, we keep doing it wrong.

"Alito -- NOT a "Done Deal"

It's Worse. He (Alito) showed his true colors in his answer to Biden's question.http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=364&topic_id=146536&mesg_id=148694

Rejecting Alito is part and parcel of defining the crimes

It is not a left/moderate/right "divide." It's more like this:

There is no "bipartisanship" with right-wingnuts whose only REAL agenda is serving their cronies, feeding the prison industrial complex, elevating those at the top higher, and leaving "the rest" to fend for themselves for the meager "slice of the pie" left

The break down of the electorate is much more like this.

1. Staunch Democrats:
People who will stand strong with Dems no matter what the Dems do.

2. Not Republicans:
People who get out to vote for Dems because Republicans are so much worse. They are at risk for falling into 3. These may not be as strongly "behind" Dems as group 1, but neither are they "moderates" in the sense that they occupy some left leaning/middle ground.

3. Opt Outs:
People who have opted out because they have given up on either party ever doing anything that actually makes a difference.

4. Disenfranchised:
People denied the right to vote for life by their status as felons -- about 4 million nationwide (not a trivial number). And about 30% of the African American male population of Alabama and Mississippi have been disenfranchised. People denied the right to vote by the suppression tactics we are seeing enacted by Republican controlled legislatures.

5. Republican Swing:
People attracted to Republicans primarily because they perceive them as the "strong ones." They go with "Strong and Wrong" Republicans over "Weak and Right" Dems. Many of these would swing to Dems if Dems demonstrated strength and gave them a real choice between Strong and Wrong, and Strong and Right.

Group 5 is not "moderate" in the sense that they subscribe to some ideology in the "middle." It is the strength they see in the right-wingnuts they find most attractive.

6. Knee jerk Republicans:
People who just see themselves as "Republican" and vote that way without much thought. Most of them probably always will. People in this group aren't keen on Trump. Some are "sticking with him," some are opting out or moving to Clinton because Trump is such a horror show. But, currently, aside from their problems with Trump, they go with Republican candidates down ticket. Some would actually start thinking twice if Dems transformed themselves sufficiently to inspire people in groups 3 and 4 to get behind them.

7. Staunch Reps/Dem haters: People whose hatred of Dems is so deep, nothing a Dem could do will ever reach them. Many are far more driven by hatred of Dems feed by the Republican noise machine than the propaganda against reasonable gun control an their commitment to "banning" abortion." (And regarding the latter, they actually have no idea what "banning abortion" would look like. They are generally opposed to incarcerating anybody for violating the "ban." Their position is more "I want it to stop." Instead of "pro-choice" rhetoric, Dems would be much more effective if they focused on the fact that a "ban" won't make it "stop." It will just push desperate women into taking desperate measures that risk death.)


The current Democratic leadership "strategy" of preemptive surrender ignores the existence of 3 and 4. As a consequence, those groups have just grown larger and larger.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The Dems are currently trapped by insidious memes and beltway group think..

They will never win a filibuster-proof majority if they don't break free of the "conventional wisdom." They won't win of a vast majority of state administrations and legislatures. If they don't change, they will not gain the power necessary to create a far more equitable nation over the coming decades.

Unless they see the light, they will not even weld the power they do gain. (Just as they refused to use the power they had to filibuster Alito.) For example, mass incarceration is the most recent, destructive, insidious, systematic, method to keep African Americans and other POC "down." With the presidency, Hillary would gain the power of the pardon, and could use that power to mark the beginning of the of end mass incarceration. But unless she "sees the light" she isn't going to do it. But if she did, that would be truly informational change. If she used the power of the pen to decriminalize possession of drugs in quantities that were clearly for personal use, it would not be difficult to make the case that the billions saved must be shifted into treatment. Successfully shifting from incarceration to treatment would be extremely likely. When confronted with a new reality, even racists would go for it out of a belief "something" needs to be done about "those people" who are being released from prison.

But I digress. Bottom line: if Dems continue to be blind to the fact that standing strong and committing to an all out fight for the "Big Stuff" is a "WINNING" strategy, we will continue our downward slide.

All that said, there are encouraging signs of change. I will never give up on "them" because I will never give up on "us." I will never give up on our ability to either "get through" to them, or replace them.

What will it take for me to believe Hillary is starting to get it:

What to do?

As I said in my post:

Step 1, elect Hill;

Step 2, fight like hell to make her see she must "Go Big." Help her realize it's futile to "reach out" to the destructive obstructionists known as House and Senate Republicans. Help her see we are out here, and that there are so many others who would be inspired to act, if she just stopped with the "bipartisan" crap, went all out for some big things, and called on us to help her purge the House and Senate of any who are determined to stop us in 2018.

Incrementalism does not inspire. It does the opposite, it disheartens. It does not stop the downhill slide. And as we continue the slide down, down, down, more and more people will give in to hopelessness and apathy."

Incrementalism lost us the House and the Senate.

The most egregious failure was the failure to demonstrate commitment to our most basic principles, say NO to torture, and do everything in their power to see Bush/Cheney impeached, win or lose. That failure invited Trumpism. If torture is ok, ANYTHING goes. Obama's blanket amnesty for the torturers said to the nation "this is tolerable." He left the right-wingnuts in positions of power.

The right-wingnuts do not do "incrementalism." They dig their heels further in. Despite the fact that what they advocate is so incredibly destructive; despite the fact that the only interests they actually represent are corporate interests, their demonstrations strength -- their willingness to "fight, win or lose," their (false) rhetoric of "standing on principle," -- is seductive. And it has attracted an unbelievable number of Americans.

Democrats have dedicated themselves to the principle "can't win so don't fight." Over and over they demonstrate their willingness to abandon their principles in the name of "practicality."

Going Big is the only way to inspire those who have already descended into apathy. It is the only way to hang on to those that will be lost if the Democratic leadership continues "business as usual."

However wrongheaded, as long as Republicans are perceived as the party of "strength," they will come out on top. Especially when their strength is in contrast with the weakness demonstrated by the Democratic Party's leadership.

Bill Clinton got it right when he said:

When people feel uncertain, they'd rather have somebody that's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right.
--Bill Clinton

And I would add, "Strong and Right" beats "Strong and Wrong."

It is tragic that Bill Clinton, and now Hillary Clinton, themselves have failed, and continue to fail, to act in accord with those words.

We can, and will, fight the best "ground game" possible to win back the House and Senate. But, if we don't see a willingness to "Go Big" from the top, those who have opted out in apathy will not be inspired to get back into the game. If the Democrats stay on the incremental and practical path, it will severely undermine any chance we might have.

We do need to be screaming "Not Enough."

If the Democrats want to win back the people, and win back the sort of majorities that enable them to actually bring about meaningful change, they must start demonstrating strength. They must commit to the principle "We will fight to the finish, win or lose." That is the ONLY way they can ultimately win.

There can be no "bipartisanship" with right-wingnuts

The Dems notion that "pivoting to the middle" or declaring intention to "reach across the aisle" is somehow a "winning strategy" is one of the most misguided and destructive notions the DC Dems have every had.

And they are so damn committed to the insanity.

As the Repubs have been racing toward looney town, the Dems just keep chasing after them to "stay in middle."

One problem. They've completely lost sight of the liberal/progressive starting point that supposedly anchors the "spectrum."

And, fighting for "something I think the Republicans will let me do" is not particularly inspiring.

American's are desperate for representatives who inspire us and show us we can "make dreams come true." Like free college. Like universal healthcare. Like pardons for all who are, or were ever, imprisoned for possession of drugs for personal use. Like restoring the right to vote to all felons. Go Big!

What people want is someone who says "Hey, Join Me! I will fight to get you a whole loaf of bread. I can't do it alone. Elect the others who are committed to getting a whole loaf and we will make it happen.

What Dems give us are so called "leaders" who tell us, "Hey, Join Me! I can, perhaps, get four slices of that loaf you wanted... Or... eh... seems 'the other side' says four is too many, but, hey, well, get behind me and I'll 'reach across the aisle' and get you one slice (maybe, if it's a really small slice)."

As Lewis Rothschild put it (character in "The American President," 1994):

People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

Trump could never have arisen, had the Dems not left such a giant vacuum.

So, what now?

Step 1, elect Hill;

Step 2, fight like hell to make her see she must "Go Big." Help her realize it's futile to "reach out" to the destructive obstructionists known as House and Senate Republicans. Help her see we are out here, and that there are so many others who would be inspired to act, if she just stopped with the "bipartisan" crap, and went all out for some big things, and called on us to help her purge the House and Senate of any who are determined to stop us in 2018.

LINES need to = FINES for SOS/County

All over, states and counties are cutting back resources to save money on elections.

The most obvious result is long lines.

LINES are no different that the POLL TAX.

TIME = MONEY. The idiom is part of the vernacular for a reason. Time is VALUABLE.

If we're going to allow lines, we might as well just bring back the poll tax.

We need federal law that sets a maximum allowable wait time and penalizes state or county agencies responsible for under-allocating resources in a way that creates wait times that exceed the maximum allowed.

An election is neither free nor fair when it "costs" ANY voter a substantial amount of time.

It needs to be Federal. We could try to do it state by state, but we'd get nowhere in "Red states." (Particularly with the latest about the Koch bros putting big money into getting "their" people elected as SOS's.)

Penalties must be substantial enough to cost the state or county much more than than any "savings" they may have gained by cutting resources in the first place.

Other ideas welcome, but I think the only way things will change is to create a monetary incentive to allocate sufficient resources to run elections well.

The penalties need to be big enough to be scary. Begging and pleading for change, appealing to conscience, none of it is flying. It has come down to this; officials need to be frightened into doing the right thing.
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